Three critical steps to protect an organisation’s safety reputation

We find a huge influx of people in commercial hubs and retail districts, transport centres, and education campuses. On top of having ready access to a range of services, people flock to these hubs expecting more than convenience; they expect safety and security to be a given.

Security officers often wonder how they can prevent security incidents from happening in the first place. Prevention protects both public safety and a company’s safety reputation.

Safety is a non-negotiable and reputation is everything. A company that cannot guarantee the safety of its clients loses out more than just business. That company can lose public trust and in the business community, that is a lot worse.

The importance of protecting your reputation: Breaking it down

Let’s look closely into why a company’s reputation for safety matters.

Companies with a strong safety reputation have an easier time attracting high-potential employees who are invested in their safety and well-being. No one wants to work for a company that can’t assure you these essentials.

When a company has a reputation for safety, customers also expect them to provide more value than other brands. This gives them the leverage to put out higher prices and fees for top quality products and services. They tend to have higher overall earnings, have a more loyal audience, and find it easier to achieve growth. Customers often associate these companies and their brand with positive overall experiences.

A company with a bad reputation for losing trust and failing at safety measures will enjoy none of these benefits.

The impact of a negative reputation

Online reviews and customer feedback are becoming increasingly commonplace. Acquiring a negative reputation is a disaster. This is true regardless of the type of business you’re running or the industry you’re operating in.

For example, a customer visits your store and accidentally slips on a wet floor. They hurt themselves and look to you and your employees to assist them and provide first-aid care. But because this was something you did not anticipate, you fumble through it. The customer is then dissatisfied with your response and posts a negative online review on your business.

If you think about it, how much harm could this one negative online review possibly do?

The answer, as it turns out, is quite a bit.

Consider the following statistics below:

  • According to one recent study, as many as 90% of consumers will read online reviews before visiting any type of business.
  • Another study revealed that online reviews have been shown to impact as many as 67.7% of purchasing decisions.
  • As many as 84% of people say that they trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation made by a friend or family member.
  • Every one star increase on a review site like Yelp can lead to an increase in revenue of between 5 to 9% on average — particularly for local businesses.

From these statistics alone, to say a company’s safety reputation is worth protecting is a clear understatement. This requires a quick response and a contingency plan to minimise the long-term damage.

To truly protect your company’s safety reputation, these three critical steps should come as a priority.

Step 1: Minimise the impact of an event when it occurs

One of the most important steps you can take to protect a company’s safety reputation is minimising the impact of an event when it does occur. Creating a truly, 100% safe environment isn’t necessarily as realistic as we’d like it to be — there are certain threats or circumstances that will always find a way to present itself.

The key is to accept this fact and prepare for it head-on. Focus on preventive measures you can take to ensure that when an event does occur, the damage is as minimal as possible.

This is something that you can do in a wide range of ways depending on the environment. If there is a particular pole that sticks out of a floor that can’t be moved due to infrastructure considerations, make sure that it is padded properly to make sure that someone doesn’t get seriously injured if they happen to bump into it.

Likewise, unforeseen events like a fire can happen literally anywhere. To mitigate risk as much as possible, you could implement an advanced sprinkler system. This would help put it out as quickly as possible and reduce the amount of damage.

Consider the fact that sprinklers were only present in about 10% of reported structure fires between 2010 and 2014 according to the National Fire Protection Association. Since the civilian death rate is 81% lower in environments that have sprinkler systems, you can see why minimising impact is essential.

Step 2: Work on your response times

Another key step to take in terms of protecting your company’s safety reputation involves training all employees and assistance crews to speed up response times. Again, there are certain types of events that you’ll never be able to totally eliminate and this is largely outside of your control. What you CAN control is how you react when it does happen.

Employees should have the skills and ongoing training necessary to respond to any and all medical incidents as quickly as possible. They should know both how to spot such an event, how to react to it, and how to get this information to the people who need to know about it as fast as possible.

This goes beyond a customer having an unexpected seizure or falling into a diabetic coma — you can also mitigate risk from other types of safety-related security incidents as well. This is one area where AI-assisted video monitoring solutions like those provided by iCetana and others will prove overwhelmingly valuable.

By processing security, safety, and operational events in real-time, these types of systems can help you identify medical and other security-related incidents as quickly as possible. This helps guarantee the type of immediate response that you and your customers need.

Step 3: Learn to spot precursor events

Finally, and perhaps most critically, you and your employees should know how to recognise patterns and other precursor events. These precursors lead up to the types of security incidents that you’re trying to mitigate.

One of the most straightforward examples of this would involve an unexpectedly warm day after a recent snowfall. The snow outside is melting and suddenly a walkway is more slippery than usual. All it would take is another temperature drop to turn that water into ice. This would lead to an increased risk of people falling and hurting themselves as a result.

But this type of preventative security also goes far deeper than that. Consider the unfortunate example of the Las Vegas shooting. This is now known as the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. In hindsight, employees recognised it was suspicious that the gunman had taken several large bags into his hotel room at odd hours of the night. But at the time, they sadly didn’t take much notice.

These are the same suspicious activities you need to focus on. These allow you to potentially address a small problem before it becomes a much larger (and perhaps deadlier) issue later on. This is another area where advanced, highly scalable AI-assisted video monitoring solutions like iCetana will prove their worth.

An AI-assisted video monitoring system won’t just allow you to spot suspicious or unusual behaviour in real-time. It can also help immediately clue you into the irregular movement of people and vehicles. This may include unauthorised access, precursor events like crowd gatherings, dispersal, and so much more.

But more than that, these systems operate both in real-time and at scale. Regardless of the size of your surveillance infrastructure, you can still expect the unexpected across your entire environment. This significantly reduces your risk profile.

Conclusion

Any experienced security professional will tell you that trying to create a 100% safe environment is unrealistic. Regardless of how much oversight you have into your environment, there are certain things that you just can’t control — especially when large groups of people in public spaces are involved.

What you can control, however, is your safety reputation. By taking steps to minimise the impact of an event when it does occur, by focusing on the fastest response times possible, and by learning how to recognise patterns and other precursor events, you’ll go a long way towards creating the safest environment (and the safest brand) that you possibly can.

By making preventive and incident response security a priority, you can protect your reputation and stay top of mind for your customers.